A recent string of violence in Asbury Park, particularly the shooting of an 11 year old girl, is the catalyst for the Monmouth County Boys & Girls Club to host a crime prevention panel to address concerns and answer questions from the community.

The panel will take place on March 27th at 6:30 pm at the Asbury Park location and include speakers such as Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw, State Senator Jennifer Beck, Asbury Park Police Chief Mark Kinmon, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, and city manager Terence Reidy.

Hannah Wolf, Board President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monmouth County says the panel will give an opportunity for the community to get together to discuss the issue.

“Also it’s an opportunity for the Boys and Girls Club to show the community what we’re doing and how we can help protect kids in Asbury Park.”

She notes that the panel’s goal is to find solutions working between the city, the county, and the state.

“It’s threatening the safety of our kids, so it’s really about what our community can do together to try and stop the violence.” Says Wolf.

She notes that there is no quick solution, so in the meantime the panel will address what can be done to protect children as well as educate them and their parents.

The Boys and Girls Club has long been a safe and secure establishment for children, however Wolf says  it’s often difficult to shield the children from the violence in their surrounds.

“When there’s gunfire erupting in the blocks surrounding the club, albeit not in the immediate area parents are concerned.” Notes Wolf, adding that “parents are concerned.”

“Our feeling as a club is if there is ever going to be a time that more parents want their kids at the Boys and Girls Club, it’s now.”

She adds the club is working with the Asbury Park Police Department to provide more safe supervision, especially at night, however the city is no longer a bussing district so kids have to walk home. And though location also has a strong police presence throughout the week, with two or three officers at the club when kids are arriving and leaving Wolf states its often the trip to and from the Club that is dangerous.

Adding that even when children get home it doesn’t protect them completely from the dangers of violence in the streets, citing the recent example of the 11 year old Asbury Park girl who was hit in the face by a stray bullet in her room.

Wolf notes that one of the struggles has been cooperation between the police department and Asbury Park, and one of the things she hopes will be accomplished by having a police presence at the Boys and Girls Clubs is it’ll allow children to build a rapport with police.

To help children build confidence and empower them in what otherwise is a very challenging environment, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America have two nationwide programs called “Smart Girls” and it’s counterpart “Passport to Manhood.” The programs teach responsibility, avoid school, and push positive characteristics.

She says between the numerous education and empowerment based programs the Boys and Girls Clubs provide, 99 percent of Asbury Park Boys and Girls Club members graduate from High School.

Wolf notes the Asbury Park Boy and Girls Club feeds kids dinner to any child who needs it as well.

She says that all are welcome for Tuesday’s panel, parents can also bring children.


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